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North Korea recognizes Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk as independent republics

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
North Korea's ambassador to Moscow Sin Hong-chol (L) hands a certificate of recognition to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)’s envoy Olga Makeyeva, on July 13, 2022. (Photo by DPR's embassy in Moscow)

North Korea has officially recognized Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republics (LPR), Ukraine’s two eastern breakaway regions, nearly five months after Russia began its military operation in the former Soviet republic.

In 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk, collectively known as the Donbass, were turned into self-proclaimed republics by ethnic Russians, leading to a bloody conflict between the government forces and the armed separatists.

The years-long conflict killed more than 14,000 people, mostly from Donbass, with Moscow accusing Kiev of committing atrocities against ethnic Russians in the two breakaway regions.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “special military operation” in Ukraine to demilitarize and 'de-Nazify' the ex-Soviet country and to “liberate” the Donbas region, two days after he officially recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics.

The latter has already fallen under the full control of Russian forces.

On Wednesday, Donetsk leader Denis Pushilin announced that North Korea had officially recognized the DPR.

“The Democratic People's Republic of Korea recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic today. The international status of the Donetsk People’s Republic and its statehood continue to get stronger. This is another diplomatic victory for us," he said on his official telegram channel.

He said he hoped for “fruitful cooperation” and increased trade with North Korea.

Moreover, Russia's TASS news agency said North Korea's embassy in Moscow had confirmed it had recognized the independence of both regions, Reuters reported.

The DPR's embassy in Moscow posted a photo on its Telegram channel of a ceremony in which North Korea's ambassador to Moscow Sin Hong-chol handed a certificate of recognition to the DPR envoy Olga Makeyeva.

The recognition will make North Korea the third country, after Russia and Syria, to have recognized the breakaway regions as independent territories.

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